Ethics & Global Politics is a peer reviewed international Open Access journal whose aim is to foster theoretical contributions to the study of ethics and global politics. It does not favour any philosophical perspective or political problem but emphasizes the importance of closing the gap between normative ethics and political theory, on the one hand, and contemporary political problems in the global domain, on the other. The journal provides a forum for original research articles, reviews and research notes that integrate normative issues within philosophy and political theory with political problems related to processes and phenomena that transgress traditional distinctions between regional, national, international and global levels of politics. In particular it encourages contributions that provide novel ways of approaching and conceptualizing the political challenges the world faces today, for instance in relation to global institutional arrangements, environmental protection, policy development, poverty, technology and knowledge, future generations, and migration.

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The Globethics.net library contains articles of Ethics & Global Politics as of vol. 1(2008) to current.

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  • Can the right to internal movement, residence, and employment ground a right to immigrate?

    Michael Rabinder James (Taylor & Francis Group, 2019-12-01)
    This article challenges Kieran Oberman’s derivation of a right to immigrate from the right to internal movement, residence, and employment. His argument depends on a cantilever strategy, which finds it illogical to recognize one right without recognizing an analogous second right. This differs from a direct argument, which derives a right directly from an essential human interest, and an instrumental argument, which identifies one right as a means to protecting another right. The strength of a cantilever argument depends on the direct or instrumental foundations of the initial right and the aptness of the analogy between it and the new right that one seeks to establish. Oberman’s argument fails on both accounts. First, his defense of the initial right to internal movement, residence, and employment, although portrayed as a direct argument, actually rests on inapt cantilever analogies with other rights, such as freedom of speech or religion. Second, the overall cantilever argument for deriving the right to immigrate fails, because immigration across fiscally separate states is not analogous to movement, residence, and employment within a single, fiscally unified state. Instead, a right to travel and visit is the proper outcome of Oberman’s argument.
  • Responsibility for structural injustice

    Farid Abdel-Nour (Taylor & Francis Group, 2018-01-01)
    Following Iris Marion Young, Catherine Lu allocates responsibility for transforming unjust global structures to the agents who participate in perpetuating and reproducing those structures. She also adopts Young’s qualitative distinction between the ‘liability’ and ‘social connection’ models of responsibility, reserving the first for interactional injustice where identifiable victims and perpetrators are involved, and the second for structural injustice where unjust outcomes emerge without any identifiable wrongdoers. This article’s argument is that Young’s and Lu’s specific allocation of the burden for transforming unjust global structures makes sense only if we reject the notion of a qualitative distinction between two models of responsibility and acknowledge instead that there is continuity in the conceptual tools available for thinking about responsibility for both interactional and structural injustice.
  • Ethos without nomos: the Russian–Georgian War and the post-Soviet state of exception

    Sergei Prozorov (Co-Action Publishing, 2010-11-01)
    This paper addresses the 2008 Russian–Georgian conflict in the context of the post-Soviet spatial order, approached in terms of Carl Schmitt's theory of nomos and Giorgio Agamben's theory of the state of exception. The ‘five-day war’ was the first instance of the violation by Russia of the integrity of the post-Soviet spatial order established in the Belovezha treaties of December 1991. While from the beginning of the postcommunist period Russia functioned as the restraining force in the post-Soviet realm, the 2008 war has made further recourse to this function impossible, plunging the post-Soviet space into the condition of anomie, or the state of exception. This paper interprets this disruptive policy in the post-Soviet space as the continuation of the domestic political process of the ‘management of anomie,’ which has characterized the entire postcommunist period. In the conclusion, we address the implications of the transformation of the international order into the ethos of anomie for rethinking the ethical dimension of global politics.
  • Cosmopolitanisms in Kant's philosophy

    Georg Cavallar (Co-Action Publishing, 2012-05-01)
    Interpretations of Kant usually focus on his legal or political cosmopolitanism, a cluster of ideas revolving around perpetual peace, an international organisation, the reform of international law, and what Kant has termed cosmopolitan law or the law of world citizens (Weltbürgerrecht). In this essay, I argue that there are different cosmopolitanisms in Kant, and focus on the relationship among political, legal or juridical, moral and ethico-theological cosmopolitanisms. I claim that these form part of a comprehensive system and are fully compatible with each other, given Kant's framework. I conclude that it is not self-evident that one can pick out some elements of this greater system as if they were independent of it.
  • Immigration and freedom of movement

    Adam Hosein (Co-Action Publishing, 2013-03-01)
    In this paper I focus on one very influential argument for open borders, the freedom of movement argument, which says that if we value freedom of movement we must demand open borders. I begin the paper the paper by discussing Joseph Carens’ well known version of the argument. I then consider, and reject, David Miller's response to that argument. Finally, I develop my own reply to Carens. Both Carens and Miller, I argue, are mistaken about the proper grounds for freedom of movement. Once we see this, it is clear how we can value freedom of movement without being committed to open borders.
  • Ethos without nomos: the Russian–Georgian War and the post-Soviet state of exception

    Sergei Prozorov (Co-Action Publishing, 2010-11-01)
    This paper addresses the 2008 Russian–Georgian conflict in the context of the post-Soviet spatial order, approached in terms of Carl Schmitt's theory of nomos and Giorgio Agamben's theory of the state of exception. The ‘five-day war’ was the first instance of the violation by Russia of the integrity of the post-Soviet spatial order established in the Belovezha treaties of December 1991. While from the beginning of the postcommunist period Russia functioned as the restraining force in the post-Soviet realm, the 2008 war has made further recourse to this function impossible, plunging the post-Soviet space into the condition of anomie, or the state of exception. This paper interprets this disruptive policy in the post-Soviet space as the continuation of the domestic political process of the ‘management of anomie,’ which has characterized the entire postcommunist period. In the conclusion, we address the implications of the transformation of the international order into the ethos of anomie for rethinking the ethical dimension of global politics.
  • The cosmopolitan strikes back: a critical discussion of Miller on nationality and global equality

    Nils Holtug (Co-Action Publishing, 2011-09-01)
    According to David Miller, we have stronger obligations towards our co-nationals than we have towards non-nationals. While a principle of equality governs our obligations of justice within the nation-state, our obligations towards non-nationals are governed by a weaker principle of sufficiency. In this paper, I critically assess Miller's objection to a traditional argument for global egalitarianism, according to which nationalist and other deviations from equality rely on factors that are arbitrary from a moral point of view. Then I critically discuss Miller's claim that there is no culturally neutral currency with respect to which we may reasonably claim that people should be equally well off on a global scale. Furthermore, I critically discuss Miller's claim that cosmopolitanism undermines national responsibility. And finally, I turn to Miller's own sufficientarian account of global justice and argue that it exhibits too little concern for the plight of the globally worse off.
  • Justice in context: assessing contextualism as an approach to justice

    Michael Buckley (Co-Action Publishing, 2012-05-01)
    Moral and political philosophers are increasingly using empirical data to inform their normative theories. This has sparked renewed interest into questions concerning the relationship between facts and principles. A recent attempt to frame these questions within a broader approach to normative theory comes from David Miller, who has on several occasions defended ‘contextualism’ as the best approach to justice. Miller argues that the context of distribution itself brings one or another political principle into play. This paper examines this claim. It considers several plausible strategies for carrying out Miller's general project and argues that each strategy fails. Nevertheless, the author maintains that an investigation into why they fail paves the way for a philosophically plausible account of the relationship between facts and principles.
  • Cosmopolitanisms in Kant's philosophy

    Georg Cavallar (Co-Action Publishing, 2012-05-01)
    Interpretations of Kant usually focus on his legal or political cosmopolitanism, a cluster of ideas revolving around perpetual peace, an international organisation, the reform of international law, and what Kant has termed cosmopolitan law or the law of world citizens (Weltbürgerrecht). In this essay, I argue that there are different cosmopolitanisms in Kant, and focus on the relationship among political, legal or juridical, moral and ethico-theological cosmopolitanisms. I claim that these form part of a comprehensive system and are fully compatible with each other, given Kant's framework. I conclude that it is not self-evident that one can pick out some elements of this greater system as if they were independent of it.
  • Gender and global justice: Lu’s justice and reconciliation in world politics

    S. L. Weldon (Taylor & Francis Group, 2018-01-01)
    Catherine Lu’s important book argues that global justice must be conceived in structural terms, paying special attention to the way this approach applies to colonialism and its legacies. Lu shows how our states system perpetuates colonial injustice, and how deconstructing or disaggregating nation states reveal the ways that colonial legacies continue to permeate contemporary problems of justice. In this essay, I apply these arguments to key issues and institutions of global gender justice, that is, issues of ‘equality and autonomy for people of all sex groups and gender identities,’ focusing especially on problems of women’s rights and problems with global dimensions, which can be thought of as a subcategory of gender justice (Htun and Weldon 2018). Drawing on recent feminist analyses of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), I show how Lu’s approach illuminates our thinking about the justice of these institutions. Considering the problem of missing and murdered indigenous women (violence against Native American and Indigenous women more generally) further highlights the limitations of these institutions and the strength of the structural approach to global justice. Conversely, I also use these examples to assess the adequacy of Lu’s approach for guiding action, especially for those grappling with questions of institutional design and policy development. In each case, understanding gender justice initiatives as attempts to address structural injustice helps to understand the advantages and limits of various strategies of institutional design and reform.
  • Some considerations for civilian–peacekeeper protection alliances

    Daniel H. Levine (Taylor & Francis Group, 2013-03-01)
    Protection of civilians has become enshrined as a core task for international peacekeeping missions. How to ensure that civilians are safe from violence and human rights abuses is central to developing military doctrine for peacekeeping; how safe civilians are from attack is central to how peacekeeping missions are assessed both by locals and international observers. However, protection of civilians is often seen as something that is done by active peacekeepers on behalf of passive civilians, potentially missing the ways in which peacekeepers’ actions interact with strategies that civilians undertake on their own behalf. Integrating peacekeeper and civilian self-protection strategies is not trivial, either from a practical or a moral standpoint. Drawing on primary research among women in Liberia, as well as case studies of civilian protection elsewhere, this essay examines the ways in which working with civilians on protection—creating ‘hybrid’ systems of protection—inevitably entangles peacekeepers in civilians’ other social, political, and moral concerns, undermining at least a naïve impartiality. To retain their moral stance, peacekeepers ought to focus on using the safety they provide to allow different local actors (civilian and armed) to interact safely and, ideally, constructively.
  • Some considerations for civilian–peacekeeper protection alliances

    Daniel H. Levine (Co-Action Publishing, 2013-03-01)
    Protection of civilians has become enshrined as a core task for international peacekeeping missions. How to ensure that civilians are safe from violence and human rights abuses is central to developing military doctrine for peacekeeping; how safe civilians are from attack is central to how peacekeeping missions are assessed both by locals and international observers. However, protection of civilians is often seen as something that is done by active peacekeepers on behalf of passive civilians, potentially missing the ways in which peacekeepers’ actions interact with strategies that civilians undertake on their own behalf. Integrating peacekeeper and civilian self-protection strategies is not trivial, either from a practical or a moral standpoint. Drawing on primary research among women in Liberia, as well as case studies of civilian protection elsewhere, this essay examines the ways in which working with civilians on protection—creating ‘hybrid’ systems of protection—inevitably entangles peacekeepers in civilians’ other social, political, and moral concerns, undermining at least a naïve impartiality. To retain their moral stance, peacekeepers ought to focus on using the safety they provide to allow different local actors (civilian and armed) to interact safely and, ideally, constructively.
  • Some considerations for civilian–peacekeeper protection alliances

    Daniel H. Levine (Co-Action Publishing, 2013-03-01)
    Protection of civilians has become enshrined as a core task for international peacekeeping missions. How to ensure that civilians are safe from violence and human rights abuses is central to developing military doctrine for peacekeeping; how safe civilians are from attack is central to how peacekeeping missions are assessed both by locals and international observers. However, protection of civilians is often seen as something that is done by active peacekeepers on behalf of passive civilians, potentially missing the ways in which peacekeepers’ actions interact with strategies that civilians undertake on their own behalf. Integrating peacekeeper and civilian self-protection strategies is not trivial, either from a practical or a moral standpoint. Drawing on primary research among women in Liberia, as well as case studies of civilian protection elsewhere, this essay examines the ways in which working with civilians on protection—creating ‘hybrid’ systems of protection—inevitably entangles peacekeepers in civilians’ other social, political, and moral concerns, undermining at least a naïve impartiality. To retain their moral stance, peacekeepers ought to focus on using the safety they provide to allow different local actors (civilian and armed) to interact safely and, ideally, constructively.
  • A cosmopolitan design of teacher education and a progressive orientation towards the highest good

    Klas Roth (Co-Action Publishing, 2013-01-01)
    In this paper I discuss a Kantian conception of cosmopolitan education. It suggests that we pursue the highest good – an object of morality – in the world together, and requires that we acknowledge the value of freedom, render ourselves both efficacious and autonomous in practice, cultivate our judgment, and unselfishly co-operate in the co-ordination and fulfilment of our morally permissible ends. Now, such an accomplishment is one of the most difficult challenges, and may not be achieved in our time, if ever. In the first part of the paper I show that we, according to Kant, have to interact with each other, and comply with the moral law in the quest of general happiness, not merely personal happiness. In the second part, I argue that a cosmopolitan design of teacher education in Kantian terms can establish moral character, even though good moral character is ultimately the outcome of free choice. Such a design can do so by optimizing the freedom of those concerned to set and pursue their morally permissible ends, and to cultivate their judgment through the use of examples. This requires, inter alia, that they be enabled, and take responsibility, to think for themselves, in the position of everyone else, and consistently; and to strengthen their virtue or self-mastery to comply, in practice, with the moral law.
  • Voting from prison: against the democratic case for disenfranchisement

    Pablo Marshall (Taylor & Francis Group, 2018-11-01)
    This article critically analyses and discards two democratically justified cases for the disenfranchisement of prisoners. These cases are offered in relatively recent published works by Peter Ramsay and Claudio López-Guerra, which – unlike other approaches – take the democratic challenge to disenfranchisement very seriously. Their arguments are based on a diagnostic of the conditions of imprisonment, which concludes that prisoners’ electoral participation is problematic for democracy because it endangers electoral integrity. This article argues against their positions and suggests that for prisoners to be treated as democratic citizens they must be recognized as electors and given an opportunity to vote. Firstly, it will be affirmed that prisoners cannot be made responsible for the conditions of their imprisonment and that prisons must adequately meet democratic requirements. It will also be affirmed that, if these requirements were fulfilled, the conditions of prisoners in a democratic prison would not be sufficiently different, in relevant aspects, from the conditions of other enfranchised people. Secondly, it will be asserted that, at least at to some extent, their arguments underestimate the possibilities of prison reform and electoral regulation to overcome the democratic problems of coercion and manipulation, which they target as two main problems of enfranchisement.
  • BRICS, soft power and climate change: new challenges in global governance?

    Francesco Petrone (Taylor & Francis Group, 2019-12-01)
    This paper aims at describing if, in a context of global gridlock and emerging issues such as climate change, a decisive role could be played by the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). Despite these countries experiencing internal and structural problems, they could represent an innovative answer to the functioning of the current global framework. In fact, even though they are not considered to be as accountable as western countries in many areas, their leading commitment to global issues such as climate change could provide an important solution to strengthening their weak ‘soft power’. By working together to instigate global change, and taking advantage of Western ‘decline’, can the BRICS play a decisive role in shaping global governance?
  • Designing institutions for global democracy: flexibility through escape clauses and sunset provisions

    Jonathan W. Kuyper (Co-Action Publishing, 2013-12-01)
    How can advocates of global democracy grapple with the empirical conditions that constitute world politics? I argue that flexibility mechanisms—;commonly used to advance international cooperation—should be employed to make the institutional design project of global democracy more tractable. I highlight three specific reasons underpinning this claim. First, flexibility provisions make bargaining over different institutional designs more manageable. Second, heightened flexibility takes seriously potential concerns about path-dependent institutional development. Finally, deliberately shortening the time horizons of agents by employing flexibility provisions has cognitive benefits as it forces designers to focus specifically on issues of feasibility as well as desirability. I discuss a range of flexibility mechanisms and highlight the utility of sunset provisions and escape clauses. From this analysis, I build an argument for the usage of small-scale democratic experiments through which citizens (or their representatives) have a say in global policy making.
  • Revolutionary, advocate, agent, or authority: context-based assessment of the democratic legitimacy of transnational civil society actors

    Christopher L. Pallas (Co-Action Publishing, 2010-09-01)
    The literature on transnational civil society encompasses a number of conflicting views regarding civil society organizations’ (CSOs) behavior and impacts and the desirability of civil society involvement in international policymaking. This piece suggests that this lack of consensus arises from the diverse range of contexts in which CSOs operate and the wide variety of activities in which they engage. This article seeks to organize and analyze the disparate data on civil society by developing a context-based standard of democratic legitimacy for CSOs. The article disaggregates democracy into input, throughput, and output components, and shows how CSOs must support or manifest different aspects of democracy in order to be democratically legitimate in a given context. Applying this standard to existing works, the article identifies several problems in current research, including a failure to recognize ways the democratic imperatives of transnational advocacy differ from national advocacy, and the potential for international civil society interventions to undermine local democratic processes.
  • Accountability and global governance: challenging the state-centric conception of human rights

    Cristina Lafont (Co-Action Publishing, 2010-09-01)
    In this paper I analyze some conceptual difficulties associated with the demand that global institutions be made more democratically accountable. In the absence of a world state, it may seem inconsistent to insist that global institutions be accountable to all those subject to their decisions while also insisting that the members of these institutions, as representatives of states, simultaneously remain accountable to the citizens of their own countries for the special responsibilities they have toward them. This difficulty seems insurmountable in light of the widespread acceptance of a state-centric conception of human rights, according to which states and only states bear primary responsibility for the protection of their citizens’ rights. Against this conception, I argue that in light of the current structures of global governance the monistic ascription of human rights obligations to states is no longer plausible. Under current conditions, states are bound to fail in their ability to protect the human rights of their citizens whenever potential violations either stem from transnational regulations or are perpetrated by non-state actors. In order to show the plausibility of an alternative, pluralist conception of human rights obligations I turn to the current debate among scholars of international law regarding the human rights obligations of non-state actors. I document the various ways in which these obligations could be legally entrenched in global financial institutions such as the WTO, the IMF, and the World Bank. These examples indicate feasible methods for strengthening the democratic accountability of these institutions while also respecting the accountability that participating member states owe to their own citizens. I conclude that, once the distinctions between the obligations to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights are taken into account, no conceptual difficulty remains in holding states and non-state actors accountable for their respective human rights obligations.
  • Law as a global entity through Italian eyes and minds

    Werner Menski (Taylor & Francis Group, 2018-08-01)
    This contribution discusses, from the perspective of global comparative law, how Mariano Croce’s English translation of a major book by an important early-Italian scholar, Santi Romano, allows helpful insights into early twentieth-century Italian thinking about the intrinsically plural nature of law. This debate connects directly to current worldwide discourses about legal pluralism, showing how Romano’s exciting project forms an early precursor of the gradual movement towards obtaining a better grasp of the inner nature of the deeply plural concept of law. Romano’s work, as a remarkably pertinent early contribution, of lasting relevance to global legal theorizing, indicates that a reductionist, positivistic conceptualization of law that ignores the legal agency of common citizens could easily lead to disastrous outcomes through abuses of state-centric powers. Connecting Romano’s early theorizing to many currently ongoing debates in different jurisdictions and legal orders about the plurality of laws, this article seeks to demonstrate the powerful impact that such kind of pioneering work can have even today. It strengthens, above all, the currently growing realization that law is certainly much more than state law, and that people’s laws and their diverse values and ethics should be treated with more respect by legal orders.

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